Klinsmann hearts Merkel

AP Photo/Daniel Maurer; REUTERS/Thomas Bohlen; AP Photo/Frank Augstein

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- German soccer fans, who were braced for World Cup humiliation, clogged central Berlin to celebrate the team's third-place finish as coach Juergen Klinsmann reflected on his embrace by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

``I was very proud to be hugged,'' Klinsmann, mulling the offer of a new contract, told reporters after beating Portugal 3- 1 in a playoff yesterday. ``She was at our side when times were hard and supported us when the critics were all over us. I'd like to thank her.''

Klinsmann's impact was international. Mexico's El Universal newspaper said the proliferation of flags on display across Germany hadn't been seen since World War II.

``The collective penance lasted 61 years,'' said the paper. ``It took the World Cup to put an end to it.''

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